The Pyrenees---Southern France

The Pyrenees---Southern France

Saturday, January 12, 2019

How Sioux is Turning Into a Planner (Shudder!)

I'm a pantser. I fly by the seat of my pants. The WIP I'm most proud of is a middle grades novel and is being critiqued as we speak. Because of this manuscript, I'm wearing the I-didn't-do-any-outline-or-map-any-of-it-out badge of honor. (Of course, I wrote 27,000 words, had to scrap almost all of it, and then had to build it back up, through "channeling" the main character, until it's now at 50,000 words. Perhaps a dollop or two of planning might have made things easier for me.)

I've had many writing friends and colleagues try to use a taser encouragement to prod me into trying to plan out my writing. Sue Bradford Edwards writes about her story boards, and I envision a board the size of an art-gallery wall, covered with organized post-its and photos and illustrations and colorful yarn connecting the different parts. I don't know what her boards truly look like, but I do know she's a prolific and successful freelance writer. Planning obviously works for her.

An editor I hired tried to convince me to map out my story into 3 acts. Margo Dill gave me some specific suggestions for each act. I now have to admit: Margo, I did all my "planning" in my head as I went. I hope you'll agree that in this case, pantsing worked. (Margo has my manuscript and since we're snowed in today, perhaps she's reading it right now.)

However, it's a miracle! I'm embracing planning. Finally. I just finished Jessica Brody's book Save the Cat! Writes a Novel and it's transforming. I'm already thinking about how I can make my story map (with index cards and corkboard) portable, since I'll be going to a writing retreat in February.

If you check out my post at The Muffin you can find out some details about this book.

(A book that can change Sioux from a pantser into a planner? That book must have some powerful mojo...)


  1. Yes, I heartily encourage you to go the planning route IF IT FEELS RIGHT. You may find that it's just what you needed, or that you are comfortable using a combination of planning and pantsing. Don't try to change for the sake of change. Do it because you WANT to explore that method.

  2. I hear you, Sioux, but I'm kinda with gotta do what works for you. After all, it's all writing. Whether you do a lot of planning at the front end or revising at the back end, it still comes down to a lot of writing. :-)

  3. i think a new method may be worth investigating. I am a pantser, but a planner method I might try.

  4. Several years ago at an RWA national conference I was fortunate to take a Save the Cat workshop based on the original book by Blake Snyder. It was life changing in terms of helping to keep my plots on track. And the best thing is that as a pantser, it still works, because there is plenty of wriggle room for when characters go off the rails all by themselves. When I saw this new STC book for novel writing, I jumped right on it. It was delivered to my door last week and is next on my TBR list. I can't wait!

  5. Val--Don't you know me? I'm not going to do anything I don't want to do.

    Cathy--See my reply to Val. I'm a bit stubborn. I only do what I want to do (whenever I can get away with it).

    Linda--That's what I'm thinking. I hope it works.

    Lisa--I totally agree. Having the luxury of wiggle room AND a way to organize or plan? That's a dream come true.


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